August 16, 2013

The financial value of side projects

At the start of the year I turned down an offer for one of my websites. But the buyer didn't leave it at that, and I'll share how things panned out.

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May 23, 2013

Paul Jarvis shares good advice for designers

Designer and writer Paul Jarvis has a useful website. Here are some posts and resources of interest, and some thoughts I agreed with.

Paul Jarvis book cover artwork

Paul talks about how to build an audience from scratch. Many of you are, or once were in this situation. If I found myself transported back to when I became self-employed eight years ago, this is close to the advice I'd give the younger me.

It's important to say no from time to time.

"Saying no sometimes means I get a feeling that the client could be tricky to work with, or not jive with how I work. It’s ok to turn down projects I have a feeling might not go well, because chances are they won’t. And if they don’t, it’ll end up costing more to do the work than if I had just said no first. Not everyone is a perfect fit, and I’m certainly not a perfect fit for everyone."

There's a page comparing ebook sales on Amazon versus other platforms. Mailchimp is listed as the favoured email list management tool. I recently signed up with preferred AWeber. More on that later. (Update: read how I increased subscribers by 1,000% using AWeber.)

Work better. Good productivity tips.

Solid thoughts on how to succeed at anything (posted on the Medium platform — worth a visit for the unfamiliar).

"Pay your dues and if you want something, earn it by doing everything you can while expecting nothing. Acting like you’ve put in your time and now deserve more than someone else will get you nowhere but thought of as an ass pretty fast."

A quick bio: He's a "practicing yogi, touring musician, has a tattoo (or two), and is a non-preachy vegan." He currently lives in the woods, on the coast of Vancouver Island, with his wife Lisa and pet rats Ohna’ and Awe:ri.

Paul Jarvis

Catch him on Twitter.

February 1, 2013

On selling websites

Last week I was offered a five-figure sum for the sale of the Logo Design Love website. My sites will always have their price, but for a few reasons, I said no thanks.

Heart dollarPhoto credit: Instructables.

My name's on the book. If the website is controlled by other people, their actions will reflect on me, even if all traces of my name are removed from the site. That's something I never thought about when naming the book, but on the other hand, the book's success is helped by the popularity of the website, and vice versa, so it can be good having them linked.

Understandably, the sale was mostly based on statistics — visitor numbers and origins, what keywords drive people to the site, monthly ad revenue, etc. Thing is, I launched the site five years back, and since then it's grown a personal value that's more than numbers, not to mention the beautiful and smart readership that significantly adds to that.

Perhaps most importantly, the potential buyer owns another website where logos are sold in isolation at the lowest end of the market. One main reason for the purchase was to add banners and links pointing to this other site. Here's a relevant quote from the Logo Design Love book.

"Every client is different, so every design project will be, too. It makes no sense to pigeonhole your clients into a specific price bracket. What works for one will not work for another, and your time — and profits — take a big hit when you limit yourself to a set range and attract clients on the basis of price alone."

So not exactly a good fit.

Exit strategy?

If you're thinking of selling your own website, here are a few questions worth answering.

  • What happens to the site after its sale?
  • How easy can you disassociate yourself?
  • How much have similar websites sold for?
  • What profit will your website generate over three years?
  • Can you trade for something other than money?
  • Who are you happy to sell to?
  • Do you want to keep any control over the content?
  • Will you provide support for a limited time?
  • How will you announce it to your subscribers?
  • Do you need a contract of sale?

If you want lower the time spent publishing content, but don't want to sell completely, there are a couple of options: Hire writers, similar to Smashing Magazine or Web Designer Depot.

Site income > writer fees = profit.

Alternatively, store your content as an online archive, similar to Speak Up. Traffic will decrease over time, but it can still generate passive income, and act as a helpful resource.

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Update:
Flippa seems to be one of the top marketplaces for those buying/selling a website (cheers Jon).

A couple of worthwhile reads for those in the selling market: Back in 2005 Yaro Starak wrote about how to sell a website. Some links are out-of-date, but much of the content still applies. Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips shared a few tips for selling your blog or website on Flippa.

September 30, 2011

How to get 87,698 blog subscribers in five years

I started this blog in 2006, not really knowing what I was doing. According to FeedBurner stats, the RSS subscriber count has risen to 87,698, and here are a few things I've learned along the way.

1/ Focus on what you enjoy

Two things here; focus and enjoyment. When you focus your content on a particular topic or profession, your readers know what to expect, and they're more likely to subscribe. Unless you enjoy what you're writing about, you'll soon get bored and give up.

2/ Share your mistakes

We all make them. Few of us share them. You tend to open-up more when you talk about getting things wrong, and it's that personal touch that'll help keep readers interested. Here are some blog mistakes to avoid if you're starting your own online journal. And perhaps one of my biggest mistakes — neglecting email security.

3/ Comment elsewhere

You’ll undoubtedly know others with their own blogs. They’ll have more people reading their comment threads, too. Join the chat, share some advice or opinions. You might learn something from the threads, too — I certainly have.

4/ Make guest appearances

Offer guest posts to blog owners who have built their own subscriber base. I did this on a couple of well-known blogs, and although I've looked back wishing I could press 'edit', it was still worthwhile. One thing to remember, offer your best writing. Don't hold the good stuff back for your own blog. It's your chance to make an impression on a different audience.

5/ Make it easy to subscribe

Seems obvious, but there have been plenty of times when I've had to search for a subscription button or link. Additionally, not everyone knows the benefit of RSS subscriptions, so offer an email alternative.

6/ Publish consistently

It doesn't matter if you publish a new post every day or every couple of weeks, but consistency breeds familiarity, leading to trust, and eventually sales of some sort. We all have something to sell.

7/ Don't sell out to advertising

By all means make money from your blog, but don't hide useful content behind blocks of Adsense, popups, and a raft of flashing banners. Instant turn off.

8/ Social proof

We avoid the empty restaurant in favour of the busy one next door. To a certain extent the same applies to our websites. Some people think it's boastful to show a subscriber count. I don't. But avoid using the FeedBurner chicklet (or whatever alternatives are out there) until it shows more than 500 or so.

9/ Don't sweat the numbers

It's easy to become a stat addict, constantly looking at numbers, charts, graphs, wanting to see a continual increase and wondering what you're doing wrong if you don't. Try to treat each reader/commentator as if s/he's your only one. This one at a time focus keeps your writing personal, and people will subscribe to your blog because of you.

10/ Be positive

The blogs I enjoy most remind me from time to time how fortunate I am. Millions struggle every day to have the life I lead. What do I really have to complain about?

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A sincere note of thanks for taking time to read what I have to say.

April 18, 2011

One month of online advertising earnings

A number of people asked about my online ad earnings, so here they are for an average month in the hope that they’ll give guidance for your own ad income.

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June 9, 2010

Noisy Decent Graphics

Really Interesting Group

There are very few design blogs I've been reading since starting my own in 2006. One of them is Noisy Decent Graphics, written by London-based designer Ben Terrett of Really Interesting Group.

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May 12, 2010

The WordPress plugins I use

I limit the number of plugins I use so load times aren’t bloated, but there are a few I’ve found useful enough to keep.

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November 12, 2007

50 graphic design blogs

I compiled this list of design blogs back in 2007. Many are no longer updated, and I’ve since unsubscribed from quite a few. Here’s a more current selection.

It can take time finding talented graphic designers, but it's fair to say the best have a healthy online presence. So to make things easier, here are some graphic design blogs worth a look. I've listed them by Google PageRank — Google's way of determining a website's authority, but don't read into it too much — many have an authority far beyond a single digit.

Design Observer

Design Observer: writings about design & culture

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine – a weblog dedicated to web-developers and designers

Core77

Core77 / design magazine + resource /

Authentic Boredom

Authentic Boredom – by graphic designer, Cameron Moll

Coudal Partners

Coudal Partners: a forum for creativity and experimentation

Creative Review Blog

CR Blog – News and views on visual communications from the writers of Creative Review

Dexigner

Dexigner – popular design portal featuring the latest design news

Hicks Design

Hicksdesign – Journal of a small creative agency based in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK, authored by Jon Hicks

I Love Typography

I Love Typography, devoted to fonts, typefaces and all things typographical.

Mark Boulton

Mark Boulton: Design Thinking. Web Delivery. By a designer based in Cardiff, UK.

Quipsologies

Quipsologies - Corralling the most relevant and creative on- and off-line bits that pertain to the design community.

Russell Davies

Russell Davies – incredibly diverse UK-based blog on topics associated with design

Speak Up

Speak Up > Design Dialog

subtraction

Subtraction 7.0 – NYTimes.com's Design Director, Khoi Vinh, blogs about design and other relevant info.

swissmiss

swissmiss – tina roth eisenberg | swiss designer gone nyc

Typographica

Typographica. A Journal of Typography.

Veer The Skinny

Veer: The Skinny – provides visual elements for use in professional creative work

Veerle's Blog

Veerle's blog 2.0 – Webdesign – XHTML CSS | Graphic Design

Logo Design Love

Logo Design Love: a website dedicated to all things logo.

Ace Jet 170

Ace Jet 170 – Found type, print and stuff

AisleOne

AisleOne – Design, typography and everything else.

Chris Glass

Chris Glass, The Last 10 Days. A creative fella's journal from Ohio.

Creative Curio

Creative Curio – Learn, discuss and explore the realm of graphic design.

Design Notes

Design Notes published by Michael Surtees who tries to see life filtered through design as opposed to placing design on a pedestal

Designers Who Blog

Designers who Blog – features blogs discussing graphic design, web design, illustration, marketing, photography, branding, writing and advertising

Design is Kinky

Design is Kinky – a proudly Australian blog on design

Design Mag

DesignM.ag — Articles and Resources for Web Designers

Design View

Design View: Articles, Essays and Opinions by Andy Rutledge

Grain Edit

Grain Edit - covers contemporary graphic design / illustration, as well as design from the from the golden era of advertising (1950s–1970s).

ideasonideas

ideasonideas, a blog that invites dialogue on issues relevant to communication designers and brand strategists

Inspiration Bit

Inspiration Bit – Get inspired and learn from the latest technology, art and design buzz on the Web.

ISO50

ISO50 – The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

Jasongraphix

Jasongraphix :: A journal of art, thoughts, and projects by Jason Beaird

Noisy Decent Graphics

Noisy Decent Graphics by Ben Terrett, a Graphic Designer in London

positive space

Positive Space :: The Graphic Design Blog

Spoon Graphics

Spoon Graphics - the personal project of Chris Spooner, a UK based Graphic / Web Designer.

Swiss Legacy

Swiss Legacy – Graphic design and typography

The Dieline

The Dieline – packaging design blog

things to look at

things to look at – plenty of images, and oddly, things to look at

Type for you.

Type for you. A blog on typography, by Pedro Serrão, a graphic designer from Porto, Portugal.

TypeNeu

TypeNeu dedicated to typography, fonts, lettering and typefaces

AdGoodness

AdGoodness – advertising and design blog from Frederik Samuel

Andy Budd

Andy Budd :: Blogography – based in Brighton, England

Computerlove

Computerlove – Contemporary Creative Culture

David the Designer

David the Designer – don't underestimate the knowledge this man has acquired (and don't call him Dave)

Elliot Swan

Elliot Swan survived three days without the internet

FormFiftyFive

FormFiftyFive – Design Inspiration – the pet project of designers Glenn Garriock and Jack Daly

graphicPUSH

graphicPUSH – "a sporadically but faithfully updated design blog"

Graphic Design Blog

Graphic Design Blog – graphic design, freelancing, illustration, advertising, web design

NOTCOT.ORG

NOTCOT.ORG - for your ideas + aesthetics + amusement.

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray

We Made This

We Made This (It's Our Blog)

Just Creative Design

Just Creative Design – by Jacob Cass

Truly Ace

Truly Ace – Graphic Design Blog

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Update:
Don't forget to check out the blogs I subscribe to — changed a lot since this post was published.

July 30, 2007

Seven blog mistakes to avoid

Over the years I've made quite a few mistakes with my blog. I’ve highlighted some here so you can hopefully avoid the same ones.

orange limeImage by Becca Fatora

#1 — not using a self-hosted blog

I began blogging using the WordPress.com platform instead of WordPress.org. The former involves hosting your blog on the WordPress website, rather than self-hosting.

The problem with using WordPress.com is that you don't have full control over customisation. Essentially, WordPress owned and stored my content. It also meant I was showing my blog's address as davidairey.wordpress.com rather than davidairey.com.

In Jakob Neilsen's 2005 article on blog mistakes, he had this at number 10:

"Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naive beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously."

I get the point, but that takes it a bit far. Some of my favourite blogs are on TypePad:

There's also — a guru on everything WordPress-related.

Douglas Karr of has this to add about self-hosting your blog:

"I personally like to host my own blog because of the flexibility it provides me in design changes, adding other features, modifying the code myself, etc.

"I wouldn’t discourage anyone — even a corporation — from using a hosted solution like Vox, Typepad, Blogger or WordPress just to start out and experiment."

#2 — expecting people to visit

It's the interaction on blogs that keeps me going. When I started out, I had no idea how to attract visitors and comments. I thought that if I published new content I'd automatically find readers in my niche.

Wrong.

It takes time and effort, and reaching out to fellow bloggers. In fact, there's a whole that changed my way of thinking. Now if I see or hear something of interest, I wonder if I can use it for my blog.

#3 — not writing as if I'm talking

My first ever posts were more like lectures. Who wants to read a lecture? I want to make things engaging, and show people something they haven't seen before, or tell them something they don't know. When you write like you talk, people are more likely to comment on what you're saying. When people comment, they share their knowledge. I want to learn from my readers.

At the start I was rather than making use of comment threads.

You might find it helpful to leave comments on other blogs, adding to the conversation. It takes time, obviously, but blog owners appreciate it, making them more likely to visit and comment on yours.

The way you write, the words you use, your tone of voice, how you reply to comments, your blog design, the topics you cover... they all show a little bit of who you are.

#4 — changing blog location

When I moved my blog's location from davidairey.com/blog to davidairey.com it dented my Page Rank. The mistake was not moving sooner, or not starting with my blog in the root directory.

Daniel at has this to say:

"Unless your blog is a secondary part of an existing website you should always install WordPress on the root directory. When I created my first blog I used an automatic WordPress instalation that my web hosting company offered, but the standard installation was done on “www.domain.com/blog”.

"I wasn't sure how this would affect the blog so I decided to leave things as they were. A couple of months later when I started studying SEO I realised this was a bad move."

When I launched my first website about two years ago I wanted my portfolio to be the main purpose, with the blog a secondary aspect. But it didn't take long to realise the number of clients I could attract through my blog content, then direct them to the portfolio. It's generally the content I publish that brings visitors rather than the static pages in my portfolio.

#5 — neglecting my article headlines

Most people new to blogs will spend all their time writing the post, not thinking too much about the headline. But if your headline in a feed reader or on social media doesn't catch attention, the chances of a click through are greatly decreased.

This is something Brian Clark gives advice on. Another good read is Ben's piece on writing headlines.

#6 — not linking to others as I'd like them to link to me

I see it every day, people linking to others using the anchor text 'here' or 'click here'. You don't link to other sites unless you think it helps your visitors, so give those site owners a link they'll really appreciate.

I touch on the subject here: . Andy Beard says it better: .

#7 — underestimating the time commitment

I'd no idea how much time a blog would take. There are — something I think many people don't appreciate when taking the first step. I jumped right into it without doing any research (hence this trial-and-error post and the dead WordPress.com blog that started me off).

What blog mistakes have you made? Feel free to join the chat below.

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